Climate targets for 2020 unlikely to be met

(Chapter 2—Spring 2012 Report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development)

Ottawa, 8 May 2012—The government’s approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is unlikely to meet Canada’s target for 2020, says Scott Vaughan, Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, in his report tabled today in the House of Commons. The 2020 target is to reduce Canada’s emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels.

“Environment Canada’s own forecast shows that in 2020, Canada’s emissions will be 7 percent above the 2005 level, not 17 percent below it,” said Mr. Vaughan.

The government intends to achieve the 2020 target through sector-by-sector regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. The audit found that currently there are two regulations in place for the transportation sector and none for the oil and gas sector. Regulations proposed for the electricity sector are not expected to take effect until 2015.

Existing federal regulations are expected to reduce emissions by 11 to 13 million tonnes in 2020, but an additional reduction of 178 million tonnes is needed to meet the target. Given that it takes several years for regulations to be developed and to have an impact, the audit concluded that it is unlikely enough time is left to achieve the target using this approach.

The audit found that the regulatory approach was not supported by an overall implementation plan that would, for example, give a detailed analysis of how different regulations work together to meet the 2020 target. The audit also found that the government did not analyze how much its approach would cost the Canadian economy.

“The government said it was withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol because remaining in it would be too costly to the Canadian economy,” said Mr. Vaughan. “We therefore expected the government would have estimated how much it will cost to meet its target and identified the least costly options.”

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The chapter “Meeting Canada’s 2020 Climate Change Commitments” is available on the Office of the Auditor General of Canada website.

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